GETTING READY FOR ANOTHER POTATO HARVEST. With lots going on, half the battle is clearing the decks and tying up loose ends in order to make way for full-immersion potato harvest. Harvest will begin in a couple of weeks.
After last year’s record-driest-ever growing season in Northern Maine, this year – while dry yet again – brought us precious timely rains and the potato crop is looking good.
This shot was taken during our potato harvest of 1994. Caleb’s older brother, Peter, then 4-years-old, was utilizing the appropriate technology of a one-gallon-paint-can as his picking basket. The green pint-sized work glove on his left hand denotes a farmer-can-do attitude was already in development.
Today, Peter builds houses down in the Portland area. When Covid hit hardest and made keeping up with shipping orders extremely challenging, Peter and his partner moved back home to help us. Caleb, Megan & Jim
SOYBEAN FIELD COLLAPSES AND FALLS 25-FEET IN CLIMAX, MINNESOTA. You might say forth-generation Climax (Pop. 248) farmers Wayne & Erllene Erickson in the Red River Valley, 28 miles southeast of Grand Forks ND, had a surprise this week.
A quarter-mile long stretch of their soybean collapsed precipitously, creating a ‘Grand Canyon’ effect with sheer cliffs 25-foot high in places. Geologists call it a “rotational slump.”
The ‘Grand Forks Herald’ reports. grandforksherald dot com/business/agriculture/7168288-Bean-field-collapses-and-falls-25-feet-in-rural-Polk-County
Contained in the GFH article is a video clip (2:20) by WDAY reporter Kevin Wallevand. It’s well worth viewing to see the mighty power of nature on full display. Caleb, Megan & Jim
“‘(It’s) kind of scary. It is sad, sad to see it,’ said Erllene Erickson as she surveyed the fallen field. ‘Mother Nature does what she wants.’
“Geologists with the University of North Dakota say the dry weather, a drop in water levels on the Red River and recent rains can form a perfect storm for things like this to occur.”
“11,000-YEAR-OLD SOLUTION TO MODERN PROBLEM: ANCIENT POTATO COULD THRIVE IN CHANGING CLIMATE.” ‘Yale Climate Connections’ tells us the story of the growing rescue of drought-resistant “Four Corners Potato,” a kissing-cousin of the Andean potato everybody enjoys.
Remarkably enough, it has been grown for 11,000 years by the Hopi and others. Caleb Megan & Jim yaleclimateconnections dot org/2021/08/11000-year-old-solution-to-modern-problem-ancient-potato-could-thrive-in-changing-climate/
“With drought a persistent problem in the Southwest, Hopi/Tewa seed keeper Valerie Nuvayestewa has eagerly joined the effort to bring back an Indigenous superfood that her ancestors cultivated for 11,000 years. The Four Corners Potato can grow under dry conditions and provides triple the protein and twice the calcium of red organic potatoes.
“Scientists and leaders of Indigenous communities in the region have launched a drive to reintroduce the drought-resistant tuber, known scientifically as the Solanum jamesii, as a possible food solution for people hit by impacts of climate change. University of Utah scientists and Indigenous food activists say the spud can stay dormant for years under dry conditions, still offering nutritional benefits like iron and zinc to humans.”
IMMEDIATE JOB OPENINGS AT WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM IN MAINE! Come join us! Enjoy working together on a down-to-earth real 45-year-old organic family farm and in our year round organic seed mail order & web business located right here on the farm in beautiful Northern Maine.
New job openings include: 1) Year Round Full-time Seed Assistant, 2) Seasonal Full-time Seed Assistant (Summers Off!) and 3) Part-time Seed Assistant.
Find details here: woodprairie dot com/jobop/
Everyone – please help spread the word by Sharing & Liking so friends in Maine may learn about this opportunity to earn a living working with us. Thanks! Caleb, Megan & Jim
CELEBRATING THE ERA WHEN RAILROADS WERE KING AND WHEN MAINE HAD ATTAINED ITS STATUS AS “THE POTATO EMPIRE.” This expertly refinished BAR (Bangor and Aroostook) boxcar is owned by a club of railroad aficionados and is part of the working collection of the Concord (NH) Scenic Railroad which daily offers historic scenic train excursions in the beautiful White Mountains.
Local potato historian Bob Tweedie once observed, “In the 1950s the B & A hauled up to 500 carloads of potatoes out of Aroostook County in a single day with some help from the Canadian Pacific RR.”
Bob related seeing one such striking boxcar a long ways from Aroostook County: ” In the late 1950s I was stopped at a RR crossing in California watching the cars pass. Lo and behold a red, white and blue B & A car went by. Some cars were taller and longer but this car was prettier and 3400 miles from home, the same as I.” Caleb, Megan & Jim
MUST READ COMMENTARY ABOUT THE EPA’s BAN THIS WEEK OF DEADLY CHLORPYRIFOS. At the same time we should be celebrating this week’s mega-delayed ban on Chlorpyrifos on food crops by the U.S. ‘Environmental Protection Agency,’ the event also offers insight into our systemically dysfunctional…
SIGNS OF THE END OF SUMMER. After planting, a major task of Summer is the months-long extensive cleaning and disinfection of our potato storage and hundreds of hardwood pallet boxes. The effort is geared primarily to avoid the age-old potato-dread Bacterial Ring Rot.
Most potato farmers disinfect with quaternary ammonia. We organic farmers are allowed to use Clorox which sanitizes well so long as no organic matter (soil or potato slime) remains after cleaning which would disable its bacteria-killing action. For that cleaning job we use a powerful hot water pressure washer. When we're done the queen could eat off the floor.
With potato storage and pallet boxes now spic & span, we turn our attention to the Summer's final rite before 'Digging:' repairing ailing pallet boxes.
Here, Caleb is removing from pallet-racks stacks of stickered & air-dried hardwood pieces (skids, slats, floor boards, perimeters, diagonals and corners) we buy ahead from a local Amish sawmill.
Thanks to Covid conniptions the two local pallet box manufacturers are reporting unavailability of 1/2" hardwood slats used to make pallet box sides. With new pallet box recruits unavailable for purchase, we'll be working extra hard trying to redeem another 3-5 years use out of aged boxes worse for wear that normally would be headed out to the burn pile. While we plan on a 10-year lifetime, some of our rejuvenated pallet boxes are now 25 years old. Caleb, Megan & Jim
CLEANING ORGANIC ‘AROOSTOOK’ WINTER RYE ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. Last week we harvested our crop of ‘Aroostook’ variety Winter Rye. This week we set up our grain cleaning line which removes weed seed and chaff from the crop. The Aroostook Winter Rye is destined for sale and usage as Organic…
“HOW EXTORTION SCAMS AND REVIEW BOMBING TROLLS TURNED ‘GOOD READS’ INTO MANY AUTHOR’S WORST NIGHTMARE.” Is nothing sacred? Review bombing, ransom emails and extortion have descended upon a once innocent site dedicated to helping book lovers winnow the wheat from the chaff.
‘Time’ reports. Caleb,…
RUSSELL’S POETRY GROVE, MOFGA EDUCATION CENTER, Unity, Maine. Circa 2021. Yesterday, the ‘Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association’ held a modest Maine celebration commemorating its astounding 50th Anniversary as the oldest and largest organic organization in the USA.
The event was held at…